Brands are designed. I dare say many designers do not even realise this.
A design — a chair, or a lamp, say — can be made into a brand. In fact, it can be argued that the design is already implicitly a brand by default; without having to explicitly subject it to a “branding” process. This is because a brand is fundamentally the distinguishing mark for a product or service, so a particularly “memorable” object, place or experience — by virtue of its distinctive design — brands itself. Remember that branding has its origins in scorching a mark on the hide of cattle to show which ranch it belongs to.
Even in its origins, a brand as a distinguishing mark had to be designed — in the most general and obvious definition of design as a cognitive and physical process of making. The appearance of the brand is a unique visual identity, often of graphic and artistic quality, and not merely a serial number. The indiscriminate proliferation of superficial logos today undermine the significance of our abilities to use symbolic representation to make distinctions in what otherwise would be a world of sameness around us.
Those who understand branding today, subject the “branding process” to design thinking. This includes “up-stream” ideas for the design of the “brand strategy”, through to the design of the “brand experience” and the design of many aspects of “brand loyalty”. The brand is designed from inside to out, head to toe, end to end. Whilst it is possible to brand a design, it pales in scope and possibilities when compared to designing a brand.